Monday, October 10, 2011
We all know (and if you didn't know, now you do and shame on you), that Supernatural was set to end after five seasons. That was Eric Kripke's (the creator) plan. He set up a five-season plot arc for the Winchester brothers, with the fifth season culminating with the final battle against Lucifer. A battle that had five seasons of set-up; five seasons to develop and bring these two wonderfully complex characters to their ultimate destined stopping place, or at least to the most important place of their lives.
But the television industry (coughhollywoodcough) is a twitching, ever-changing machine and even the best laid plans.. yadda yadda yadda. As you probably figured out (and if not, shame on you) that Kripke's five-year plan has been extended. Five seasons has now become seven, with the possibility of more to come.
A year ago, you'd find a cupid shaking your hand in greeting before you would find me doubting the decision to keep Supernatural on the air. However, three episodes into the seventh season, I'm not so sure. And that's hard for a long-time fan like me to admit.
Now, Supernatural has never been the brightest show on television. The cinematography, if fact, is deliberately set to portray the bleakness of these characters lives. It's a horror show - one that is the everyday life of these brothers and hunters. But in past seasons, there has always been an outline of light in an otherwise dark hotel room. That outline could be a talking, stuffed bear or a naked, hugging cupid. It could be a forced walk through TV Land or ancient demons disguised as an old couple in Christmas sweaters. But there was always something, and more often than not each episode would show that outline of light, even if it was as simple a single line of dialogue or a 1-second Dean reaction shot. That is one of the reasons this show is so great. It can take such a depressingly dark story and with one look, give that story (and the audience) hope.
I realize that we are only three episodes into the seventh season, but people, the outlook is bleak. The end of the sixth season was no fluffy cake-walk and I was hoping things would turn around in the seventh season. We were told that the show was getting back to the basics - back to the fundamentals that made it great in the first couple of seasons. That sounded promising, but the monster of the week format only really worked for this show while it could laugh at itself (and on occasion have the characters laugh as well). With the added background mythology, that is what helped make the show work. Without it, it's just another procedural. And like Dean, I HATE procedurals.
What will happen to this show and these characters if the writers can't screw in a light-bulb for us? As Mo Ryan deftly points out, Dean has already suffered from anti-characteristic behavior, behavior that funnily enough, recalls an earlier, less sympathetic version of the character. IF this is what the producers mean by "going back to the basics", then I am NOT on-board.
Of course, the doubting part of me takes up only 50% of my brain. The other half is just happy and grateful to have the opportunity to continue watching two of my all-time favorite television characters, despite the fact that the writers are now slowly leaching away all the light in my life - curiously akin to the what they are doing to their characters' lives.
Here you have a couple write-ups that agree with this line of thinking:
Sandra Gomez at EW.com wonders if Dean went too far in last weeks episode. SPOILER ALERT!!! Do not read unless you're caught up with the show.
Mo Ryan over at AOL is one of my favorite writers. She's amazing and wildly perceptive when it comes to the writing on shows. She too is worried about the path the show is going down and better articulates the problems that such a dark outlook can produce for the audience and the for development of the characters themselves.